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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Essel on Political Spam

Political Spam – a Russian Novelty?

David Essel

Here’s a novel tactic: three copies of the following nasty little piece of political insinuation and lack of understanding got caught in my spam filter (from spoofed or hijacked sender addresses twila962victoria@basf.com, wun_jou3vittorio@barbourville.com, vilma2tracy@tppa.com, full long headers available). Only mad Russophiles would deem illegal spam activities an appropriate response to political campaigning. Here is my translation:

Subject: The Americans are Preparing a Revolution in Russia

Election day is soon and these elections are fateful. As the day approaches, the citizens of our country are reacting with the utmost sensitivity to political news and are being bombarded with information including the use of dirty PR technologies. Special note should be made of the use of this means to worsen the situation and artificially heighten social tensions.

During the last two months, the most outstanding example of this in view of its level of activity, power, and professionalism [Essel: the compliment is unintended; professionalism is a rude word to a genuine Russophile] has been carried out in the Pushkin District of the Moscow Region. The whole – sadly quite wide – range of dirty information technologies [Essel: what about your own political spamming, is it it all right if you do it?], including the use of rent-a-crowd meetings and pickets that get shown on television, mud-slinging campaigns in federal, regional, and district newspapers, Internet-poisoning [Essel: can I have some please?] and so on and so forth has been deployed.

Strange as it may seem, the source of this information campaign and its funding is located far away from the Pushkin District in foggy London, the place which welcomes those who wish Russia ill.

Well-known Russian émigrés possessing vast shadowy capital have called on the services of a company with a hitherto untainted reputation, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, founded some 25 years ago by David Ogilvy, the advertising business guru. It is strange that a respectable American corporation whose clients include big names such as LG Electronics, Pfizer, Unilever, Sun Microsystems, BP should not consider it beneath it to accept money of dubious provenence and enthusiastically undertake to organise rent-a-crowds, fake hunger-strikes, and sink so low as to engage in direct and fairly evident slander. Maybe the powerful corporations’s excecutives in New York are not aware of what its distant Moscow office is doing or maybe – this cannot be excluded – the American corporation is carrying out a trial before a full-scale incursion into the Russian electoral process in order to organise yet another “colour”, “democratic”, revolution.

An answer to this question must be provided by the organs responsible for our country’s security of state [Essel: let’s get the threats in, nice and slimy]. It can already be said, however, that what we are seeing here is rude interference in Russia’s internal affairs by an American corporation working for the shadowy money of Russian émigré circles in London.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide is the largest international communications money in the WPP Group and was founded over 25 years ago by David Ogilvy, a guru of the advertising business. Its representative offices in over 60 regional markets on every continent and run from headquarters in New York. Its clients include big names such as LG Electronics, Pfizer, Unilever, Sun Microsystems, and others [Essel: this is getting repetitive rather quickly!]. Who would have thought that the Moscow office of this well-known company – SPN Ogilvy PR – would stoop so low as to engage in the dirty tricks often used by dishonest businesses and politicians [Essel: now that’s the pot calling the kettle black!].

In September 2007, a mass media campaign was deployed against Vladimir Bashkirtsev, the head of the Pushkin Municipal District. More surprising still was the use of every possible, and more importantly – expensive, media: federal and local press, television, the internet. Employees of SPN Ogilvy PR pay for the organisation of regular public meetings. A fair amount has already been spent. By a conservative reckoning, organising these activities has already cost several tens of millions of roubles.

It’s only fair to ask why does such a large agency need to make itself this sort of reputation?

It would seem that this electoral PR campaign is biting and that the Russian powers don’t like it one little bit when things don’t go 100% their way. All I can say is “Right on, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide!” but I do think that it’s rather brave of you, given the way things are in Russia today. It’s time to start preparing for raids of your Moscow office by masked SWAT “tax police”, confiscation of your computers, harrassment and arrest of local and maybe expat staff, balcony “falls” in a state of depression brought on by three people on your landing...

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